Jorja Smith – Be Right Back | EP review
It’s somehow already been three years since British singer-songwriter Jorja Smith released her debut album Lost and Found. The Mercury Prize-nominated record garnered acclaim for its composition and sophisticated RnB electro-soul style, as well as dynamic vocal performances. Definitely not one to rise to fame and then fade away, the Brit Award-winning star has collaborated on records such as 2019’s Be Honest with Burna Boy, but new project Be Right Back is the first body of work released by the artist since. The eight-track collection is not quite an album, but signals the start of the next imaginative chapter.
Genre-wise, this feels like a natural evolution for Smith: the laidback energy and bluesy RnB make for effortless listening and appear to be headed in an even more soulful direction. The EP opens with Addicted, which debuted in March, setting a soft but sharp, soulful tone that gently crescendos alongside dreamy synth. In a similar vein, Gone feels like a gentle Sunday morning, complete with compelling rhythm and twinkling piano loops reminiscent of an Alicia Keys single. By the time Bussdown, featuring new London rapper Shaybo, plays with its more experimental layers and catchy bassline, Be Right Back already feels like a self-assured, delightful return.
Though the songs don’t belong to a meticulously designed record, they rarely feel stray or unwanted, and there’s still an evident arc running throughout. Also consistent are the singer’s magnetic vocals, harmonies and raw falsetto, the latter taking centre stage in the acoustic jazz-tinged Time. The track also features Smith’s signature snippets of studio conversation, and it’s this less polished production that adds to the release’s overall charm. Home is another highlight, a catchy guitar-led piece where the songwriter muses about a parallel life as she sings, “I don’t know why but I call it home.” It’s another example of the evocative, emotive songwriting that both existing fans and new listeners alike can appreciate.
If Be Right Back is a compilation of the tracks that didn’t make the cut, then it’s a promising sign of things to come. The sophomore album is an infamous challenge for any artist, but, judging by this prelude, it’s clear this is a challenge that will be confidently accepted. Hopefully Smith’s next return doesn’t keep fans waiting for too long.
Be Right Back is released on 14th May 2021. For further information or to order the album visit Jorja Smith’s website here.
Watch the video for the single Gone here: